Thursday, April 23, 2015 share Abbey's progress

...she's come such a long way.

This update is long overdue.  Perhaps its because we are still holding our breath that this disorder will come again...perhaps its because we are still in some kind of recovery mode from the stress of all that happened...and perhaps it's because things are getting back to normal and I don't want to jinx her progress.

 December 28, 2014 seems so long ago. 


Abbey was just being admitted to the DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI.  At the time this photo was taken I am not sure we really understood the severity of Abbey's condition.  We just knew she was in good hands.

Within a few hours of this photo we were informed her diagnosis was ADEM.

The severity of her diagnosis hit us slowly.

She was such a good patient.  This may seem cliche but this child handled pokes, and IV's, and medications like a champ.  

This photo was taken while her favorite nurse was flushing her IV.  This was her least favorite part of any process.  And she was so good about it.

  She was a sick little girl.

After about a week of high dose steroids and intense physical and occupational therapy we were sent home to Ann Arbor.  The doctor's were pretty reassuring that this would never happen again.  And her prognosis for recovery was excellent.  Nonetheless, I was a mess when we left the hospital.  In my mind she was in good hands in the hospital.  

We took Abbey's recovery process very seriously.  She participated in her therapies and we reintegrated her into school very slowly.  The most important aspect of her recovery they told us was going to be rest.  She rested.  

And she began to recover.  She was soon walking again.  She was regaining her strength in her arms.  And she was excited about school.   She returned for just two hours a day for three days for one week.

Then she caught another virus.  We were worried.  We talked with the doctor's office each day.  They reassured us Abbey was going to be fine.  Until she wasn't.

Once again she was readmitted.  This time to Mott's Children's Hospital here in Ann Arbor where she underwent nearly another week of high dose steroids.  Her symptoms this time were more stroke-like.  Her speech was slurred and she had more trouble with her emotions.

Her recovery has been remarkable.

Within a short period of time she was playing with her sister again.  

We were taking short walks outside.  You can see the steroids made her quite puffy.

We reintroduced her to school even more slowly this time.  We panicked when she got her first fever.  We panicked again when she got her first cold.  And both time she received just fine.

About two weeks ago she received a clean bill of health from her neurologist.  He doesn't expect her to have a recurrence.

I think Mark and I would say she is about 90% recovered.  Physically she is doing extremely well.  She has been discharged from both physical and occupational therapy.  She is playing soccer, and running with her dad, and leaving Art projects all over our kitchen table.

Academically, in spite of missing nearly two months of school, she is doing very well in school.    She is diligent about doing her homework, practicing her math facts, and working on her writing tasks.  Her teacher doesn't have any concerns.

Abbey continues to struggle with the brain functions that we take for granted.  She tends to be quite emotional, she is more impulsive, she giggles very easily, angers quickly, and cries if you look at her cross-eyed.  She struggles with sustained attention, short-term memory and word-recall.  

Although these things are hard for her, she is aware of her weaknesses and works on improving them.  She reminds us when its time to work on her cognitive therapy tasks.

We are so lucky she is doing so well.  She is expected to fully recover.  We can still marvel that some things haven't changed...

She still loves to take care of little ones....

And she is always side-by-side her sister.

She is much more attached to Mark and I since all this has can usually find her right by our side...

She sits with me...

She plays with Mark...

We don't mind.  

We are simply thankful that our days have returned to normal.  Easter egg hunts, visits with the Easter bunny...

...birthday parties, and playdates...

We have big dreams for you little one.  

We are so happy playing on the jungle gym is normal again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 enjoy a concert performance

...was it really a few days ago already?

Will had his first guitar recital this past weekend.

He told Mark that his stomach was 'doing back flips'.  He was concentrating so hard during his warm-up.

Will had his personal posse at the event.  They were coloring.

Will is pictured here with his guitar teacher Dave Buehrer.  He is such a patient teacher and clearly loves what he is doing.

Will played two songs.  He played the Star Spangled Banner and Cheatin' Heart.  Dave played the chords while Will played the melody.

Don't mind the videography skills...the videographer forgot her tripod.

I'm not sure I could get up in front of a crowd of people...but I sure am proud of the dedication that Will displayed.

Sunday, April 12, 2015 try a new recipe

...since we are back on track here in MI!

We had a great week off.  Spring break was fun for the family, relaxing in the sense we had a break from all of our activities, and productive with a few projects around the house.

We are prepped and ready for the week.

Lunches are made.

Chores are done.

The kids have been read to.

And the meal plan is ready.

I even have two new recipes on the list for the week...remember I had wanted to try at least one new recipe a week?  I am playing catch up.

This one was a winner for so many reasons.

1.  Everyone loved it.
2.  It was very easy.
3.  The vegetables were delicious!  
4.  I may never overcook chicken again using this method. 

Side note: My chicken is often on the dry side if I grill it or fry it.  Mostly because I fear I am going to contaminate my offspring with salmonella.  Thus I cook and cook and cook it.  I might cook it for least five minutes per side and sometimes I would even flip the chicken twice.  I can't believe I didn't know how to make chicken this way.  In a way it is similar to how I cook beef...the meat keeps cooking from its own heat after I take it out of the oven.

The kids are so happy.  New recipe day wasn't a disaster!

Mark is so happy.  He says these are his new favorite fajitas.

Me...I am not as happy.  I had leftovers on our menu for Thursday.  

There are no leftovers.

Saturday, April 11, 2015 cheer on Mark and Will the Big House 5K

So proud of this little guy!

Doesn't he look so proud of himself!  He should be.  What a feat!

3.1 miles.

He worked hard training with his Dad.  He even ran during our vacation.  And I might add, he left Kyle and I in the dust.  Kids have no respect for their elders I tell you!  If we could have caught him we might have tried to trip him...!

I digress.

As you can see Will was quite nervous when I dropped them off.

Proud runners-to-be.

You can see why Will was nervous by the glimpse of the crowd waiting up ahead.

These two came along with me to cheer Will and Mark on.  Isabella stayed home to babysit our little sleeping beauty, Audrey.  That girl loves to sleep in on the weekends.

Burny was very popular.

People even stopped running to come over and pet him!  

We were waiting for Mark and Will just before they ran into the Big House.

Moral support.

I think he was happy to see Abbey and I here at the end.

What a great experience for Will!  And a fun activity for them to do together.

My guys.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 bring home

...our puppy.

We had a wonderful Easter weekend with my brother, Taylor, and the kids.  While my kids were sad to leave their cousins and their Aunt/Uncle there was a little carrot dangling at the end of their trip...

By the name of Bernie...or Burny... or Berney...

After weeks of arguing we finally agreed upon a name.  We have not however, agreed how to spell his name.

But...since I will be the one to take him to all his doctor appointments AND get him his license...then I will get to spell his name the way I want.  Bwahahahahaha!

I introduce to you Burny Bo Crow.

He is a real heartbreaker I tell you.

And already he is such a good boy.

He was exactly 8 weeks old yesterday when we picked him up.  He weighs ten pounds.  He slept like a champ and seems as if he is going to be very mild-mannered.

Perhaps he'll be better behaved than my children?

No matter.  I have four kids who are awfully happy to have him as part of our family.

Hopefully he's awful happy to be a part of our family.

Saturday, March 28, 2015 see our lil' pup again

...isn't he just the sweetest?

The kids were super excited about going down to see our little guy for a short visit.

They are convinced he has grown...

And the name debate continues.

We are starting to get a bit desperate.  Mark and I are ready to name him without a general consensus.  Our votes count more than all theirs combined anyhow!

We'd like a name that is relevant to Ann Arbor.  

The front runners are: Burny (for Burns Park the neighborhood we live in) and Bo (for Bo Schembechler).  Other popular names in no particular order include:  Yost, Argo, Oliver, Forest, Charley, and Mitch.   Perhaps Amos after his Dad?   Audrey is still holding on to Elsa...

Elsa = Veto

We'll figure out his name, but we had better do it soon.  We have been told that he is already showing just how smart he is.  He has already learned to sit and shake without even being taught...just by watching his parents.

We are looking forward to having him around...

...whatever his name may be.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 put the girls' hair up

...don't they look sweet?

If only the process of putting their hair up went as smooth as they are sweet.

There was a time, once upon a time long ago, when I believed that doing my daughters' hair each morning would be our peaceful and sweet bonding time.  It would be the time each morning when we would chat and talk about the day-to-be.  My little girls' would share their secrets and worries.  In my mind, I was standing behind them, peacefully, lovingly brushing their luxurious locks.

Newsflash.  Doing their hair in mornings doesn't exactly look like the pictures of tranquility I had concocted in my daydreams.

Usually it involves yelling for the girls from the top of the stairs to, "Hurry up and find a brush for the love of all things holy!"

(Why is it that we can never ever find a brush?)

The next moment usually involves me holding my breath while I oh-so-carefully brush through their snarls.  My cautiousness always invokes screams and cries of pain and torture.

I promise, this visual is no exaggeration.  One would think I am plucking their hairs out one-by-one.

This whole hair-doing process most always leaves me exasperated and then I typically allow them to escape before I ever even pop in a barrette.

This week is different.

This week there has been reported cases of lice at their school and in Audrey's class.

I am in a panic/frenzy/crazy-keep-the-lice-away mode.

The only preventative measures I can really take (besides keeping them out of school which is unrealistic) include:

1.  Lecturing them about what not to do at school (e.g., share brushes, hats, lay on the carpet etc...)
2.  Put tee tree oil in their shampoo and conditioner each night.
3.  Put their hair up each day before school.

This morning while I was putting Audrey's hair up and she was complaining and protesting our conversation went something like this:

  • Audrey:  "You put tea oil in my hair last night!  You don't HAVE TO PUT UP MY HAIR"!" (note:  she thinks its from my tea does come in a brown bottle after all).
  • Me:  Sit Still!  Stop moving.  Turn your head.  This doesn't hurt!  Audrey...putting your hair up is just another trick that works to keep those lice at bay.
  • Audrey:  I didn't know that lice lived in the sea!
Some mornings, doing their hair is so-worth all the trouble.